Category: Wine Travels


Discover the Chianti Wine Regions

When I first started really getting into wine, I remember always being very intrigued by Chianti. And with that bulbous bottle and straw basket it traditionally comes in, it’s hard not to be intrigued. When I finally decided to pick up a bottle of my own, I quickly came to really love the varietal.

Where Does Chianti Come From?

Chianti really is a special wine quite unlike any other. The region of Chianti is a tiny area in the heart of Tuscany between Siena and Florence and overlooks the Elsa Valley. The land is fertile with olive groves, green forests, and those delicious grapes just waiting to be picked off the vine and smashed into Chianti wine.

For many years, Italians have enjoyed the prestige of being recognized for having the largest harvest of grapes and the finest vintages of wine in the Mediterranean. Present day farmers have the Phoenicians to thank for bringing vines to the area. They named the area, ‘Oenotria’, the ‘land of wine.’ The ripe fields, combined with the sun and Tuscan air led many others to this area to cultivate the grapes including, the Greeks, Etruscans, and Roman. In many cases, these cultures brought their own vines to mingle with the originals.

Chianti’s Rise in Popularity

While the earliest known record of Chianti wine dates back to the 13th century, it wasn’t until in the late 1960’s that Chianti started its journey to global popularity. The land of the Chianti area was in a down cycle. Visionaries, seeing the obvious advantages of such beautiful countryside and fertile soil, bought the land rebuilt the vineyards to become some of the most credited vines in the world.

What makes the land unique in the area is the climate of the region. The warmth which is constant, lasts much of the year with little rain fall. The soil is dry and full of stones infused with limestone providing many nutrients and minerals for the grapes. In addition, the clever vintners of the area only allow a limited amount of irrigation through the fields; therefore the vines have to delve deep into the ground to acquire water and nutrients.

The Italian government has its own classification for wine making with specific requirements for growing and making the wine. DOCG, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, and is similar to the French AOC. These government standards control the techniques from each of the eight regions of Chianti, keeping the regions wine making unique. The regions of Chianti are Chianti Classico, Colli Arentini, Colli Fiorentini, Coli Senesi, Colli Pisane, Montalbano, Rufina, and Montispertoli.

Chianti Classico is the most widely known wine of the region, not only for its name, but also for the superb quality. This wine comes from the vines species called vitis vinifera, which is the starting point for 99% of the wines in the world. Of this vine, Italy grows more than 100 official varieties.

The Grapes of Chianti Wine

In the Chianti region, which makes up roughly 25,000 acres, two thirds of the land is given to the production of the Chianti Classico, and uses at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape. In the other 20% of the region other wines are made using Sangiovese blended with Canaiolo and Colorino. For the white wines a Trebbiano or Malvasia are used. Again, the government controls the yields to nine tons in order to maintain a premium wine.

The lush red wine of the Chianti that pours into a glass like pooling velvet grows darker when aged. The flavors that wash across the tongue are dry, slightly tannic, with an intense aroma, sometimes hinting of violet. The vintners have no requirements mandated by the government regarding the aging process, but most use aged oak casks for their most savory bottles of wine called Riserva wines.

Like the Romans, the dry red has stormed the land, and today is well known all around the world. Yet it is the humble vintner creating this amazing wine that has the wine world at their feet. Today, when I’m drinking wine on any special occasion, you can usually find me enjoying a glass of my favorite dry Italian red, Chianti.


6 Completely Free Adventures in Sonoma Wine Country

Get ready to discover all the exciting tourist attractions the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country in Northern California has to offer you… and they’re totally free.. yes FREE!

1. Drive Down America’s Most Beautiful Road

California’s state route, called Highway 1, drives past one of the world’s longest and most beautiful coastlines. On a sunny day, the water reflects the sun and the cool breeze greets you. All around you, you see clear, blue sky—calm, serene, and beautiful.

No wonder it’s called the “All American Road.” Take a long drive, or stop at one of the many golden beaches for hours of sun, sea and surf. Get a tan, dive into the water, or settle with a book under the shade. Truly, some of the best things in life are free.

2. Go on a Pt Reyes Hiking Adventure

Over 140 miles of trails, yours for the exploring for the mere price of…your time. You’ll get a free map where you can follow any of the many biking or hiking trails through one of America’s most famous wilderness reserves. Some of the trees in this area are thousands of years old and their leaves and branches form a cool natural canopy.

It’s a great way of getting in touch with nature, or even yourself. We’re so used to the hustle and bustle of daily life, that we’ve forgotten how to be still, and listen to our own thoughts.

This marvelous hiking adventure can take you through different terrains of pasture lands, forests and meadowlands—and right into the center of your soul.

3. Run Free at Armstrong Woods

Most of us are cooped up in small office cubicles or condos for most of our days. At Armstrong Woods, you can run free—in over 805 meters of ancient tree groves, nature trails, and numerous picnic facilities. You’ll find the oldest and tallest redwoods in the country, some towering to over 300 feet, and nearly 1,500 years old.

Bond with your family. Play with your kids, chat with your husband (when was the last time you really talked?) or take a long walk alone to meditate in the stillness of the woods. In ancient times, knights and other adventure seekers would go on a retreat before embarking on an important quest. Take this time out and center yourself—and let tomorrow be the beginning of the rest of your life.

4. Go Animal Watching at Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is Sonoma County’s most popular spot for bird watching. People have spotted some very rare birds here, and more times than in any other area in the county. It’s a favorite destination for members of the Audubon Society—and many of them cite Owl Canyon, Hole in the Head, and the bushes near Diekmann’s Store as their favorite “places of vigil.”

The waters of Bodega Bay are also homes to a thriving community of whales and seals. With just a boat, and a good pair of binoculars, people can see these beautiful animals frolicking in their natural habitat. Better than a zoo, and as close to being in a National Geographic video as you can get—and it’s all for free.

5. Discover Interesting New Art

Maybe it’s the beautiful view, or the convergence of different cultures. California has a bustling art scene, thanks to young and talented individuals. Their visions and expressions are not only beautiful, but inspire everyone to get in touch with their own creative side.

Take an “art trip” at the Arts Council of Sonoma Country Gallery, conveniently located at Santa Rosa’s Downtown Area (right on 529 Fifth Street). It’s open on Wednesday to Friday from 12 – 5 pm, and Saturdays from 12 – 4 pm. For more information, call 707-579-ARTS or visit

6. Rediscover Rustic Americana

Tired of the urban rush? Dreaming of a quieter, simpler life? Be a farmer for one day with the free Farm Trails map. It’ll take you through the abundant fields of Sonoma Country. Go berry picking, feed the sheep and llamas, chase after butterflies, and buy freshly picked fruit straight from the farmer.

You can also visit wineries, breweries and cheese factories. Don’t think of it as an extended grocery trip—it’s a chance to enjoy rustic Americana and (for at least a few hours) know how it feels like to retire to the countryside.

If you schedule your trip during August 11 and 12, you can also participate in the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park, Sebastopol. Read more at


Planning a Perfect Napa Wine Tour

For several years now, my cousin and I have been thinking about taking a trip up to Napa. When I flew out to visit just a few weeks ago, found ourselves talking about it once again and finally decided we just needed to pick a date and do it. So late this summer, we’ll be headed up to Napa to try out some new wines and have a good time. Naturally, our upcoming trip got me thinking of what we can do to really make the most of our trip. Here are a few things I came up with to help you have a great time in Napa if you’re headed up there this summer.

1. Plan on Visiting 3-5 Wineries at Most.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re idea of a Napa vacation is to visit as many winery’s as possible, you may want to rethink that. Napa is the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself. My advice is not to spoil that and choose about 3-5 wineries to visit. Many are in walking distance of each other so choose a few near each other and you can’t go wrong. In the event you do want to visit a winery a little ways away and you don’t have a designated driver, Uber and Lyft both operate in Napa and Sonoma.

2. Make Reservations.

Napa gets more than 3 million visitors a year, so make sure you make hotel reservations before-hand. The last think you want to do is end up staying an hour away and trying to commute to and from after wine tasting. Plan smart and get a room before hand. If you know want to tour a specific winery, it’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time. Making sure you’ve got your plans set can help you avoid unnecessary hassles during your trip. Keep in mind that traffic in Napa can be a nightmare too and plan accordingly.

3. Pack a Lunch and plenty of water!

When I last went to Napa, I took a long road-trip up from Arizona. So we already had a cooler full of water and food in the car. But in the event that you’re flying in, it’s a good idea to have a plan to eat. Many wineries will have beautiful picnic areas. Going to the grocery store before hand and buying some bread and cheese will not only ensure you don’t go hungry but it will probably save you money on food too. Yes many wineries may have food with the wine tastings but it may not always be much and having some of your own will ensure you are prepared.

4. Pick Wineries Near Your Hotel.

When it comes to choosing wineries, it’s a good idea not to stray too far from your hotel. This will make your life so much easer and help you avoid either having to drive too far, or paying too much for an Uber or Lyft. With that in mind, take a look at wineries when you’re booking your room. If there are any that you know you want to visit, try to get a hotel nearby.

Good luck on your trip to Napa! I will definitely be writing plenty about my trip this summer with my cousin (perhaps a follow up on how well I followed my own advice). If you are visiting wine country or even a winery close to your home-town, consider writing about your experience and contributing to our wine blog. Click here for more details.




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3 Sonoma Wineries to Visit This Summer

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Enjoying Wine In Paris


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